Only mass action can defeat Austerity - WS129 Cover story


Five years into an austerity program that is only working to make the rich richer, most of us are very unhappy about the lack of resistance from the unions. During the Croke Park campaign the SIPTU National Executive Council released a statement that included: "There is, of course, a wider issue of fairness in the Country as a whole because the wealthy are not contributing to the degree that they can or should. This is a consequence of the political choices made by the voters at election time.”

Here, boldly stated, is the problem at the heart of modern trade unionism in Europe.  Deeply built into its ideology is the acceptance that we have to accept the policies of whichever parties happen to win each consecutive round of the Xfactor-like electoral circus. This is why the so-called general strikes in Spain, Greece & Italy have not changed policy there.  Those 'general strikes' are not aimed at bringing down the government but rather just on making it very visible that the workers are unhappy.

As long as workers across Europe accept this limitation we will have austerity imposed on us.  Tokenistic one or two-day actions, no matter how militant or noisy, cannot force the reversal of austerity. If that's what we want to see, it's not token action we need, it’s striking to win.

We need to give up on pleading with the wealthy 1% to treat us fairly. Their strength is in their enormous wealth though which they literally buy politicians and the media. Our strength is in the fact they are 1% and we outnumber them 99 to 1. Our strength is in the fact that unless we work they make no money. And our strength is in their fear that if we act together, if we organise together, if we strike together we will realise that we have no need for the 1% at all. 

This article is from
Workers Solidarity 129, April May 2013